According to published reports, the year ahead will see CIO's shift their focus from IT-enabled process improvement to alignment with business, business continuity and risk management. These same priorities were also expressed at a recent GoldenGate Software Customer Advisory Board meeting held at the St Regis Hotel, San Francisco, CA. GoldenGate's Customer Advisory Board members represent a wide range of vertical industries. Members included designates from Bank of America, Mayo Foundation, Overstock.com, Sabre Holdings, US Bank and Visa who discussed their IT priorities including how to better manage and leverage their transactional data. The overriding theme of the meeting was how a business can unlock the value of transactional data for competitive advantage. IT executives recognize that their customer satisfaction and loyalty are closely tied to how they manage and leverage their data. Lack of continuous access to data can negatively impact the overall customer experience. System availability and access to the data is no longer a competitive differentiator but a requirement for conducting business.

Sam Peterson, CIO of Overstock.com, who attended the Board meeting explained, "Ultimately, effectively leveraging and managing data is the #1 IT concern for any organization that conducts business online. With a clear, accurate understanding of the customer, we can give them the right information at the right time which directly impacts satisfaction levels and essentially revenue and growth. In fact, the effective management of all customer transactions is a universal need across all industry verticals," added Peterson. "You must also consider the speed at which you can unlock the value of this very important data."

Priority #1: High availability of mission-critical systems is a requirement for customer satisfaction.

A company's brand is inextricably linked to how well it manages data. Today's marketplace has created a no-loyalty consumer presenting organizations with greater challenges around building and maintaining customer loyalty. When a customer-facing website is not available or performing at suboptimal levels, the customer simply moves on to the competition. This new era of customer fickleness has made high availability of critical systems a growing IT concern. Any system outage should be seamless to the customer and zero data loss is a key part of that.

Priority #2: Unlock the business value of data.

Data is the lifeblood of any business, and an organization's memory is contained within critical transactional database systems. Enabling access to this data in a timely way across all areas of the business is a top priority for today's CIO. Powering business analytics with real-time operational data is essential to realizing the true value of the customer and making business decisions that are relevant to the customer.

Priority #3: Ensure data security and integrity.

According to CIO Magazine's State of the CIO 2006 issue, a top technology priority this year is to ensure data security and integrity, and GoldenGate's Customer Advisory Board concurs. When data is compromised, or data flow interrupted, the results can be devastating to the bottom line. This year, IT departments will focus on monitoring transactional data across the organization, identifying any discrepancies, and putting reliable technologies in place to comply with industry regulations and internal service level agreements.

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